Product Think Tank in Waitsfield is changing its retail store into a medical mask production facility immediately. Owner Annmarie Furey, Fayston, saw enough pleas by local health care providers to decide she and one of her employees, Kris Chamberlain, Warren, could make it happen.
“I saw a plea from Deaconess Hospital asking people who could make masks to do so. There was an instructional video that was more crafty than what we’re going to do. We’re going to produce masks using 100 percent cotton and elastic. They will be washable and reusable,” she said.
This weekend, she reached out to West Hill House B and B for sheets and pillowcases that met her 100 percent woven cotton requirements and as of Sunday, March 22, she will be accepting 100 percent tightly woven cotton men’s and women’s dress shirts at her Mad River Green Shopping Center location at noon. She asks that shirts be prewashed and bleached before being donated.
“My biggest challenge was to find the ¼-inch flat elastic. When I looked online I found May delivery dates. Then I was able to find some for March 26. So, we’re going to start cutting these masks and when the elastic arrives, we’ll put them together,” Furey said.
“I’ve ordered 288 yards of it which will make about 866 reusable and washable masks. I’ve also reached out to another supplier. We’re ready to go in to production mode,” she said.
Anyone who has ¼-inch elastic is encouraged to drop it off at Product Think Tank. The door will be locked, but people can knock. Elastic needs to be at least 6 inches and people should not donate shorter pieces.
Furey did her homework before deciding to make masks. The Centers for Disease Control had not sanctioned do-it-yourself masks, but now, due to the shortages, medical facilities are reaching out for donated masks and homemade masks. Furey said that tests showed that the best masks were made from two layers of tea cloth, but that those were very hard to breathe through, so two layers of cotton are to be used.